SMJ

The Journey of a New Ski Instructor archive part 3

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12/15/07


Starting this thread up again for any of you considering instructing, other new instructors and who knows who else might find this interesting!


My second year of instructing and my first day of lessons.


Standing in lineup, only three of us because we finished our training last week and the rest of the instructors were still training. A bunch of kids waiting for lessons. Oh no, I think - I was hoping to get some skiing in this morning. Group lesson with 4 about 6 year olds, had skied before I was told. OK, sounds OK.


OK? By the time the lesson was over I was once again on that high that only comes after a fun lesson. Didn't teach much, just got them skiing more. Started out by checking each of their boots to make sure they weren't too loose - one was totally unbuckled and I tightened it a bit. I wish I always could remember to do this, with all students.


I used my favorite John Egan line, "What's the most important part of skiing? SMILING!" and made them ski behind me with the instructions that they had to smile the whole time. All of the kids did well, I learned and used all their names right away, very important to me.


Some tactics teaching, like going across the hill when we got to a steeper section. Most of all just a fun hour of leading, following, riding the double lift with each one at least once and encouraging each one personally - by name.


Afternoon I got lucky again and had a lesson with a 9 year old girl who could ski in a wedge quite well on intermediate terrain and made lots of turns. So I got her doing wedge christies, and believe it or not parallel turns. Interesting note. She said she had ridden horses her whole life and I noticed right away that when parallel her skis were very wide apart. I mentioned this to her on the lift, that maybe it was from riding horses, so I got her to think about riding a skinny horse. This worked really well for her. She then came up with the idea of holding the reigns, since I kept pointing out that she needed to keep her hands in front, so we had a lot of fun with this. All in all she made remarkable progress for a one hour lesson. Her learning style was more technical (for a 9 year old) so she could pick up on things quickly.


How did I determine her learning style quickly? I used a trick I read somewhere on the first lift. I asked her how her drive up to the mountain was, she said "good." I said "tell me about it." She talked about how they played MadLibs, and about the conversation in the car. No mention of anything visual (scenery, etc.) No mention of anything kinesthetic (it was smooth, or bumpy or windy.) So I figured that she could handle a more verbal style of teaching, and I was right.


So two great lessons, and once again I came away from the day thinking "I was born to do this. I'm a ski instructor now - and there's no turning back!"




12/27/07


Feeling less and less like a "new" Ski Instructor as I do it more and more.


Today had a private with a 13 yo girl who already was confident on her skis, didn't use the wedge unless it got a bit steep.


She was pretty well balanced on her skis so I focused on two things. First briefly explained and showed her how to tip her skis to edge them and let them turn on their own. Once she had the feel for that on a gradual slope I introduced the concept of being more dynamic, flexing her ankles. It was hard not to use the "up and down" concept, although I know that is taboo terminology these days, but pointing out dynamic skiers from the lift there always was a bit of a rising and falling and at her age explaining that it was extension/flexion was difficult. I did do that and did say "It's not really up and down, but I still think it will help you to think of that idea." She made terrific progress, driving her knees, and thus flexing her ankles. It was great.


Later in the day I took her step-mother (an Epic Supporter who had hooked me up with her in the first place) out for a couple of runs, and found that that was exactly the same concept I needed to show her as she was skiing well, but very static - locked in a "stance" she'd been working on.


So today was about movement, about skiing not being a position, but an ebb and flow of pressure management and flexion.


In addition the concept of pulling your feet back under you helped her to stay forward. She feels that that focus will work better then keeping her body forward. That was a big thing for me a few years ago - I still work on it in fact, as well as keeping my hips forward.


Teaching skiing is extremely rewarding, and I'm really working on my eye - on looking at my students to see what they're doing. Huge for me because visual learning has never been a strong point for me, so honing my eye will help not only my students, but my own skiing as well!



1/5/08


Had a first time 3 year old private today. Oy!


Actually the lesson went pretty well, but by the end I had a sore back and was totally exhausted.


After a little walking in boots, on toes, etc. - and one ski scootering, I got him on both skis and we slid down the really tiny hill together, with him between my legs, and also to my side with my holding his hand. He had pretty good balance and never fell. Of course he would flail backwards and saying "get forward" doesn't do a thing with a 3 year old, so I'd show and tell him to put his hands forward.


I also managed to get him up the dreaded handle tow lift between my legs. After 1/2 hour he suddenly shut down. Walked back to the lodge front door, with me behind. The smile was gone, he wouldn't communicate with me at all, wouldn't even look at me, just was pouting. Sat on the floor in front of the door, I sat down there with him. Couldn't get a thing out of him, until I asked him if he wanted to see his dad. Yes this was the problem, so we went inside, dad was right there and I asked him if he wanted to come out with us. He did.


The little boy once again got into it, we skied another run, took the lift again, all with his dad standing at the top of the little hill watching. After another 15 minutes I think he'd had it and dad said we could stop the lesson. He was going to get his skis and work with him. I said, we still have 10 minutes go ahead I'll stay and play with Ryan. So the last 10 minutes was sitting in the snow and throwing small amounts of snow at each other.


All in all it was fun, and I think the kid got a good taste of sliding on snow. I then went into the lodge and had 3 advils and lunch.


I didn't ski very well in the afternoon, I was beat.





(CONTINUED)

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